Energy Fields and Healing Energy: The Scientific Basis
A Background of Healing Energy:
For thousands of years, energy fields have been used for healing in many different cultures. For example, sick people used the shocks produced by electric eels for healing as early as 2750 BC (Kellaway 1946). Another example is that of the ancients in Africa, Egypt and China who practiced certain forms of magnetic healing using minerals such as Magnetite (Payne 1990).
In 1773, Franz Anton Mesmer was successfully using magnets for healing and discovered he could produce the same amazing healing response simply by moving his hands over the client’s body! Although Mesmer was both successful and popular with treating supposedly incurable illnesses, at the time science and medicine did not support his contribution.
All throughout history people have feared these ‘mysterious’ forces and there continues to be controversy between the believers that life follows scientific laws and those who believe in a life force that can never be explained by science, one that is separate from the known laws of nature (Oschman 1996). Although mainstream science didn’t support it, from the late 1700’s to the early 1900’s medical electricity became quite popular. Several electrical healing machines were created and were widely used by Physicians for treating a range of illnesses (Geddes 1984).
Even the Sears Roebuck Company listed several electrical healing devices in their 1902 catalogue!
In 1910, science became the foundation for medical and clinical education and electrotherapy was declared scientifically unsupported and legally excluded from clinical practice (Oschman 1996).
In 1932, a professor at Yale School of Medicine, Harold S. Burr, began to study the role of electricity in the development of disease. He realized that there was little understanding of the ‘blueprint’ that directs the assembly of the whole organism (Oschman 1996). Burr believed that all living things are formed and controlled by fields that can be measured with standard detectors and that these electrical fields are the basic ‘blueprint’ for all living things. Therefore, these fields are useful for diagnosis because they reflect what’s going on in the body as every physiological process has an electric counterpart. Burr published evidence that disease shows up energetically (in the blueprint) before the physical symptoms occur and that once the energy imbalance is detected and restored to normal then the disease could be prevented. At the time, Burr’s research was overlooked by the medical profession as Physicians turned their focus to the emerging field of pharmacology.
Burr continued his research on energy fields from 1932-56, which was far from the mainstream scientific belief at the time. It appears now that Burr’s work was published ahead of his time and is now reaching maturity. As James Oschman, 1996, states, Burr’s conclusions match many of the discoveries being made currently around the world.
Measuring the Body’s Energy Fields:
During the early 1900’s, great progress began to be made in electrobiology (the study of electrical properties of living systems). In fact, William Einthoven, a Dutch Physician, received a Nobel Prize in 1924 for discovering that the heart’s electricity could be consistently recorded (Einthoven, 1906). His discovery resulted in the development of the electrocardiogram, a standard diagnostic tool that records the electrical field of the heart.
A basic law of physics states that when an electric current flows through a conductor, a magnetic field is created in the surrounding space, as discovered by Hans Christian Oersted in 1820. As a result of this discovery, it was hypothesized that the heart’s electricity should create heart magnetism (Oschman, 1997). It wasn’t until 1963 that Baule and McFee created a device to detect this magnetic field produced by the electrical activity of the heart. By 1970, David Cohen confirmed the heart’s magnetic field measurements with a device called the SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device), which is now being used in medical research around the world to map the biomagnetic fields produced by physiological processes of the body (Oschman 1997). This advance in research has shown us that the biomagnetic fields of the body are often more indicative of events taking place within the body than are the electrical measurements at the skin’s surface, such as the electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram (Oschman 1997).
Now we know that all tissues and organs of the body produce magnetic pulsations, which are now known as biomagnetic fields. We also know that it is a fact of physics that energy fields are limitless, this means that the biomagnetic field of all the organs extend indefinitely into space!
Healing with Energy:
It’s amazing that within a few decades scientists have gone from being certain that there is no such thing as an energy field in and around the body to now having scientific proof that these energy fields exist! As a result, practitioners of traditional energy healing are increasingly being investigated by scientific researchers.
James Oschman, 2005, theorizes that one reason energy based complementary therapies are effective is that the energy field of one person can interact with that of another producing beneficial energetic signals in the patient’s body. The trend within complementary therapies is toward lighter and gentler techniques that produce rapid and profound change (Oschman 2005). James Oschman, 2005, also explains that living processes are extremely sensitive to energy fields and this is based on behavioural observations, the recent acceptance of the therapeutic benefits from low level energy fields in biomedicine and the effectiveness of some complementary therapies using mild interventions. It seems that subtle energy fields that are close to an organism can produce or induce electrical and magnetic fields within the organism and that these signals have the correct characteristics to activate or enhance or suppress cellular and molecular processes (Oschman 2005).
The rational behind energy medicine is simple: disorders and diseases alter the electromagnetic properties of molecules, cells, tissues and organs. In energy therapies, such as Bio-Energy Healing, the emanations from a therapist’s own tissues can provide electromagnetic information that opens or enhances the communications in a client’s tissues (Oschman 1997)
When it comes to the subject of healing, medical researchers are particularly interested in the pulsing magnetic fields of low energy and extremely low frequency (ELF-below 100Hz, Miller 1986) and use these frequencies for kick starting the healing of a variety of tissues and different diseases. Similar frequencies have been found to emanate from the hands of practitioners of therapeutic touch and other energy therapies, such as Bio-Energy Healing, however, the fields emitted are not steady but do move through the range of frequencies that researchers are finding effective in facilitating the repair of various tissues (Oschman 1997). Biomedical researchers have found an obvious correlation between the biomagnetic emanations from the hands of therapists and the healing effects of specific frequencies. As a result, James Oschman, 1997, presents the following hypothesis and a definition of healing energy:
Healing Energy: ‘Whether produced by a medical device or projected from the human body, is energy of a particular frequency or set of frequencies that stimulates the repair of one or more tissues.’
Energy field therapies are effective because they project information, contained in signals of specific frequencies, into tissues. This triggers a cascade of activities, from the cell membrane all the way to the gene level where specific changes take place (Bassett 1995).
You might be thinking ‘why is this healing not activated naturally’? Healing energy, whether from a medical device or the hands of an energy practitioner, opens the body’s ‘network’ to the flow of energy and information. Once the whole network is functioning, natural biological communication can flow freely through the entire system. The activation of certain processes goes hand in hand with opening of the channels for the flow of energy and information. The application of healing energy ‘can convert a stalled healing process into active repair, even in patients unhealed for as long as 40 years’ (Bassett 1995)
It’s true that when information is flowing freely through the tissues, wellbeing abounds. Energy healing can be very beneficial to an individual even if no specific health problem exists. A healthy person will feel a greater sense of vitality and would be less likely to incur illness or injury, or would recover more rapidly should they become sick. In various energy healing modalities, including Bio-Energy Healing, treatments are given to healthy individuals to enhance their creativity, or to assist them on their personal journey in life.
James Oschman, 1997, makes the following hypothesis for the beneficial effects of healing energy projected from the hands of one person to the body of another for wound healing:
‘A variety of electrical, electronic, magnetic and other energetic phenomena take place within healthy tissue as a consequence of the communications needed to coordinate cellular activities. The resulting energy fields are radiated from the hands of the healthy individual. Whether caused by physical or emotional trauma, the wound that does not heal is a wound that is not receiving the natural regulatory signals needed to initiate and coordinate repair processes. When healthy tissue is brought close to such a wound, essential information is transferred via the energy field, communication channels open and the healing process is jump started.’
The research emerging on energy exchanges through biological fields is exciting and may have a very important impact upon the worlds of complementary and conventional medicine. Scientific research has shown that living organisms are complex, self-organizing systems that constantly exchange bio-information with their surroundings via subtle energy signals in order to maintain themselves. This information exchange has effects on health, disease and healing and provides the basis for the scientific foundation of energy healing modalities.
Bassett, C. A. L. 1995 Bioelectromatnetics in the service of medicine. In: Blank M (ed) Electromagnetic fields. Biological interactions and mechanisms. Advances in Chemistry Series 250: 261-275
Einthoven, W 1906 Le Telecardiogramme. Archives Internationales de Physiologie 4: 132-164
Geddes, L. A. 1984 A short history of the electrical stimulation of excitable tissue including electrotherapeutic applications. The Physiologist Supplement 27 (1): S1-S47
Kellaway, P. 1946 The part played by electric fish in the early history of bioelectricity and electrotherapy. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 20: 112-132
Miller, M.W. 1986 Extremely low frequency (ELF) electric fields: experimental work on biological effects. In: Polk C, Postow E (eds) CRC Handbook of biological effects of electromagnetic fields. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp 139-168
Oschman, J. 1996 Healing energy Part 1: historical background. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 1(1): 34-43
Oschman, J. 1997 What is ‘healing energy’? Part 2: measuring the fields of life. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 1(2), 117-128
Oschman, J. 2005 Energy and the healing response. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 9, 3-15
Oschman, J. 1997 What is healing energy? Part 3: silent pulses. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 1(3), 179-184
Oschman, J. 1997 What is healing energy? Part 4: vibrational medicines. Journal of Bodywork and movement therapies. 1(4), 239-250
Payne, B. 1990 The body magnetic. Privately published manuscript, Santa Cruz, CA